DAYTON, Ohio -
When it comes to its commitment to the certified pre-owned market, Voss Chevrolet doesn’t hold back.
The Dayton, Ohio, dealership — which has been involved in the CPO segment “since its inception,” according to Rick Slanker, used-vehicle director for the Voss Auto Network — puts any eligible used General Motors model through the automaker’s certification process.
In other words, if there is a used vehicle in the store’s inventory whose age and mileage meet the certification requirements from General Motors, the dealership certifies it. Voss Chevrolet — which is part of the Ohio-based Voss Auto Network — does not offer non-certified as an option on GM Certified-eligible units.
If a GM vehicle comes in that meets the GM requirements but has mechanical or cosmetic damage that is too cumbersome or expensive to fix, the store will wholesale the vehicle.
“We’re all in with CPO,” Slanker told AuSM in October for a special Used Car Manager section in the Dec. 1 print edition. “If it fits the criteria, we certify it.”
Voss Chevrolet's pre-owned manager Randy Bishop added: “Either consumers can buy it certified from us, or we don’t sell it.”
Granted, if the store receives a used Cadillac it cannot sell it as a certified model, as this brand has its own separate certification process, explained Slanker.
A Chevrolet store can’t certify a Cadillac and a Cadillac store cannot certify a non-Cadillac vehicle, as its CPO program is separate from that of GM Certified Used Vehicles. Instead, Voss Chevrolet will simply sell a Cadillac as a non-certified used model.
The “all-in” strategy appears to be paying off for the store, which averages 140 used-vehicle sales a month, 60 percent of which are certified. The store sells 110 new units a month.
These used numbers are up from a year ago, when Voss Chevrolet was moving 110 used units a month. Meanwhile, CPO penetration has remained rather consistent, coming in about 60 percent to 65 percent for the last five years.
Not only that, as of early November, the dealership had earned the No. 3 ranking for year-to-date CPO sales among all GM Certified Used Vehicles dealers and garnered the praise of GM Certified manager Larry Pryg.
“Ranked third in sales nationally year-to-date, Voss Chevrolet is a great example of a fully committed Certified Used Vehicles dealer,” Pryg told AuSM.
He further noted that Slanker and Bishop “are dedicated to outstanding customer service and we are confident that they will continue to have success.”
And success in the CPO segment certainly can be extremely beneficial for several aspects of a dealership. Slanker pointed out that “a certified buyer is more likely to be a repeat customer for service and parts, new and certified.”
While the store certainly has seen success in the used and CPO arenas, it still experiences one of the biggest challenges that many other dealers have been facing in today’s used-vehicle environment: inventory shortage.
In fact, Slanker said the “availability of vehicles is always a concern.”
That said, the store has managed to adapt.
“We’ve had to look at broadening our search,” Bishop said.
One way in which the store has done that is through the Trade-In Marketplace that AutoTrader.com offers. This service is designed for shoppers interested in trading in their old vehicles with dealers who are looking to bolster their trade-in volume.
Voss Chevrolet is a buying center for the program.
“We’ve had very good success at attracting those customers with those vehicles,” Slanker noted. “It’s just another source of vehicles other than the off-lease or retail marketplace.”
But, as many dealers can attest, it’s not just about finding inventory, but the right inventory and pricing, as well.
To help Voss Chevrolet in that area, the store has turned to FirstLook for inventory management. Slanker had high praise for the service, saying it does a “phenomenal job” helping the dealership ensure its prices are competitive in its area.
He explained that the tool helps the store figure out the best models to have in its inventory, while also pointing out vehicles that don’t move as quickly, “seasonally or annually.”
Slanker said this knowledge has led to the store’s turn rate becoming “substantially quicker.”
Strong Emphasis on Reconditioning
Speaking more about overcoming inventory challenges, Bishop pointed out that the dealership is spending more on reconditioning as well, “to bring (a used vehicle) up to our quality.”
Voss Chevrolet makes reconditioning a major priority. The store strives to make it comprehensive, but also time-efficient.
There is a 117-point inspection process — which will soon be a 172-point inspection, Slanker noted — and everything is done in-house.
“We do everything we can do to streamline that process,” Slanker noted. In fact, Voss Chevrolet aims to have reconditioning completed from start to finish in 72 hours.
Chiming in, Bishop further emphasized just how important reconditioning is to the process of selling vehicles.
“We believe condition is the number one reason someone buys a used car,” Bishop stressed. “So we put a lot of emphasis on reconditioning so it’s one of the nicest used vehicles the customer will find.”
Spreading the Word
Moving on, the Voss Chevrolet managers delved into some of their strategies for getting the word out about their vehicle offerings.
When it comes to marketing, Slanker said it has trimmed its print advertising, while increasing its spending on electronic and online advertising.
“We’re constantly re-evaluating our ad spend,” he noted.
The store advertises on as many outside websites as possible, and also strives to make its own website the cream of the crop.
“We try to stay ahead of everyone as far as having the nicest display,” Bishop shared.
Since the store has been in the certified game for so long, the dealership also gets a lot of repeat business, as these CPO customers “see the value in the certified program,” Bishop noted.
It also helps that the Voss name has a strong and longstanding reputation in the area, so word-of-mouth and referrals boost business, as well. In fact, there are employees who have been with the store for upwards of 39 years, Slanker pointed out.
And it’s no secret that repeat customers and referrals can bear fruit for a dealership’s business.
Bishop further emphasized the importance of putting the customer first.
“It’s more about servicing the customers than the selling the vehicle,” Bishop said. “Give them good quality service and the sale will come.”
So far, that seems to be working for Voss Chevrolet.